Illinois Previews Part 2: US House
District 1 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Bobby Rush is unopposed in the Democratic primary
Perennial candidate Jimmy Lee Tillman is unopposed in the Republican primary
District 2 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Marcus Lewis, Robin Kelly (incumbent)
Overview: Incumbent Robin Kelly shouldn’t have too much trouble in this primary for this solid Democratic seat. Marcus Lewis has been a perennial candidate for this seat for the past decade, typically running as an independent on a platform that seems incredibly obsessed with recreating Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency. Kelly defeated Lewis and two others with 73% in the 2016 primary, so it seems unlikely Lewis will manage to improve all that much on the 16% he received then.
Prediction: Robin Kelly wins with 75% of the vote.
Candidates: Patrick Harmon, David Merkle, John Morrow
Overview: This primary seems like it should be very open, especially considering the low number of Republican voters in the district. John Morrow, a sales executive who ran for this seat in 2016, is the probably favorite at this point, given his name recognition. He is also running a campaign focused on infrastructure, which could help him in the area. Photographer David Merkle is running as more or less a moderate establishment Republican, but it’s hard to know whether that will be effective in a race where local issues will be the most important. Community organizer Patrick Harmon could be a dark horse in my opinion, as he has good community connections and his campaign is focused on issues that will connect most to voters, such as gun violence and education.
Prediction: John Morrow wins with 45% of the vote.
District 3 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Dan Lipinski (incumbent), Marie Newman
Overview: This is going to be one of the biggest primaries of 2018, and one where we could see an incumbent fall. Incumbent Dan Lipinski is one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, and doesn’t have a distinct electoral reason to be conservative given the Democratic leanings of this district. As a result, progressives have wanted to push Lipinski out of this suburban Chicago seat for years. However, they have struggled to find a good candidate for many years. That is, until this year, when advertising and nonprofit executive Marie Newman decided to challenge Lipinski. The establishment in the state stood by Lipinski immediately, along with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. As a result, Lipinski has maintained strong fundraising. Initially, Newman’s challenge seemed like a long shot, especially given the continued support that local unions have given Lipinski. However, Newman managed to find an issue that gave her momentum, highlighting her pro-choice stance in comparison to Lipinski’s pro-life stance. This gained her national relevance and large support among the Resistance movement, a movement that we have often seen led by suburban women, a demographic that will be important in this election. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York endorsed Newman in February, giving her the support of a key center left Democratic leader. National pro-choice groups have lined up behind Newman as well, helping her further her fundraising. Additionally two more groups have showed up to help Newman. First, a bunch of Obama alums have joined Newman’s campaign, in many ways getting revenge for Lipinski’s lack of support for Obama as an Illinois Democrat. Lipinski refused to endorse Obama in 2012 and voted against the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, Bernie Sanders and his Our Revolution group have endorsed Newman, pointing out her positional similarities to many of Sanders’ views. Polls have showed an incredibly tight race, with Lipinski winning 43–41. Lipinski is obviously very concerned, with reports from the district of mailers claiming Newman is a holocaust denier. Personally, I definitely think in this environment voters will turn out heavily against Lipinski.
Prediction: Marie Newman wins with 53% of the vote
Perennial candidate and literal Nazi Arthur Jones is unopposed in the Republican primary
District 4 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Not Running)
Candidates: Sol Flores, Jesus Garcia, Richard Gonzalez
Overview: This largely hispanic Chicago district when longtime Representative Luis Gutierrez announced his retirement in December. He endorsed Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to replace him immediately after the announcement, making Garcia the immediate favorite to hold the seat. Garcia also is running with the backing of Our Revolution, meaning he will do well with economic progressives. Garcia is widely known as well from an effort to unseat unpopular mayor Rahm Emanuel, a bid in which he narrowly fell in a runoff. Nonprofit executive and community organizer Sol Flores is the most likely to win this seat if Garcia doesn’t come out on top. She has the endorsement of Emily’s List and will also take the votes of many social progressives based on her community work. She also has a more anti-establishment streak that may appeal to many voters. Police officer Richard Gonzalez is also running for this seat, initially running against Gutierrez and his view that Puerto Rico shouldn’t be granted statehood. However, he seems to be running behind both other candidates. Both Gonzalez and Flores have criticized the decision by Gutierrez to support Garcia as his successor, saying it gives him an unfair advantage. Regardless, it would be a surprise if Garcia doesn’t come out on top.
Prediction: Jesus “Chuy” Garcia wins with 60% of the vote.
Mark Wayne Lorch is unopposed in the Republican primary.
District 5 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Mike Quigley (incumbent), Sameena Mustafa, Steve Schwartzberg, Benjamin Thomas Wolf
Overview: Mike Quigley faces a surprising three primary challengers, a bit surprising given his general center left policies. Social advocacy worker Sameena Mustafa is the most notable candidate aiming to unseat Quigley, running on a progressive left platform, receiving support from the Justice Democrats organization, an organization recruiting candidates who pass a progressive litmus test. Mustafa has raised some money, but she is still getting blown out of the water in fundraising by Quigley. She will also be hurt by the candidacy of Democratic Socialist Steve Schwartzberg, who is running on a similar progressive left platform, more specifically focused on the ideas of Bernie Sanders. As a result, even if Quigley fell under 50% it would be possible that the anti-incumbent vote would be too split. Benjamin Thomas Wolf is also running for this seat, running a very unorthodox campaign. Wolf is running on a campaign largely based on legalizing marijuana, even running an ad where he smokes a blunt, an ad which was featured on PornHub among other websites. He gained some traction before his campaign began to crash and burn when it was revealed that he lied about his FBI credentials and had abused a former girlfriend. As a result, he has faced much backlash and incidentally become the first known candidate to get their ads banned from Pornhub.
Predicition: Mike Quigley wins with 60% of the vote.
Tom Hanson is unopposed in the Republican Primary.
District 6 (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Canidates: Becky Anderson, Sean Casten, Carole Cheney, Amanda Howland, Ryan Huffman, Kelly Mazeski, Jennifer Zordani
Overview: Seven candidates are running for this seat, considered the most likely in Illinois to change hands. There are three candidates considered the top candidates for this seat at this point. Former financial adviser Kelly Mazeski, running a center left campaign focused on health care and education, is probably the slight favorite at this point, leading in fundraising and receiving endorsements from Illinois US Representatives Cheri Bustos and Jan Schakowski and a large amount of the local establishment. Carole Cheney, a former staffer for US Representative Bill Foster, also seems to be a strong candidate in this primary. She has the endorsement of both of Chicago’s main newspapers as well as Foster and fellow US Representative Robin Kelly. She is also running a center left campaign focused especially on health care and education, so there isn’t much to distinguish the two. However, Mazeski does have more money in the bank and therefore the ability to reach more voters. Energy Executive Sean Casten is the third candidate considered a strong contender, trailing only Mazeski is fundraising and boosting the endorsement of many environmental groups. Attorney Amanda Howland has a few progressive left endorsements, and could take a more than insignificant number of votes. Naperville City Councilwoman Becky Anderson has also raised a decent amount of money and has experience, and therefore could be a dark horse candidate. Attorney Jennifer Zordani and Data analyst Ryan Huffman are also running for this seat.
Prediction: Kelly Mazeski wins with 30% of the vote.
Incumbent Peter Roskam is unopposed in the Republican primary
District 7 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Danny Davis (incumbent), Anthony Clark
Overview: Incumbent Danny Davis is very popular in this district, typically winning 85% of the vote in one of the country’s most Republican districts. Davis has taken some criticism lately for his defense of Louis Farrakhan in the wake of his statements that white people are devils and jews are satanic. Davis initially responded by saying “The world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question and his position on that and so forth.” Later, Davis explicitly said that he disagreed with what Farrakhan said, but also said that Farrakhan is someone who does outstanding work for the community. This drew the ire of conservatives as well as national Democrats. However, I don’t think this controversy will really hurt him in his district. I would suspect that the majority of his constituents in Chicago won’t be incredibly offended by the comments. Maybe he loses 10–15% of his support, but don’t forget that he won 82% in his last primary. Teacher Anthony Clark is running with backing of the Justice Democrats, and has run a well-organized community focused campaign. However, defeating a 22-year incumbent is a nearly impossible task.
Prediction: Danny Davis wins with 65% of the vote.
Candidates: Craig Cameron, Jeffery Leef
Overview: Somehow, there are two Republicans running for this seat, with typically only votes 14% Republican. University of Chicago professor Jeffery Leef is the slight favorite, having the name recognition from running for the seat in 2016. Leef is running a very centrist campaign, talking a lot about both parties needing to work together more. Construction manager Craig Coleman is running a campaign primarily focused on fixing local issues for the community. Either could win in what will be a very low turnout primary, but I’d still give the slight edge to Leef.
Prediction: Jeffery Leef wins with 60% of the vote.
District 8 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi is unopposed in the Democratic Primary,
Uber driver Jitendra Diganvker is unopposed in the Republican Primary
District 9 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Janice Schakowski is unopposed in the Democratic Primary
Candidates: John Elleson, Max Rice, Sargis Sangari, D. Vincent Thomas Jr.
Overview: This primary is GOP primary in a safely Democratic district which seems very open. Pastor John Elleson and Think tank leader Sargis Sangari seem to be very slight favorites right now. Elleson has received the most publicity, but much of it has been negative for putting a fake Chicago Tribune endorsement on his site. Elleson is running as a moderate candidate and so is Sangari. Both have advocated working together. Sangari also has raised $20,000, which is not terrible for a candidate in a primary for a seat he will almost definitely lose. Professor D. Vincent Thomas Jr. received the endorsement of the Chicago Sun-Times, but I’m not sure he can win a Republican primary, given his clear dislike of Donald Trump and the current GOP establishment and generally moderate views. Max Rice is the only strong conservative in the race, but doesn’t have high name recognition.
Prediction: Sargis Sangari wins with 30% of the vote.
District 10 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Brad Schneider is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Candidates: Doug Bennett, Sapan Shah, Jeremy Wynes
Overview: In another interesting Republican primary in a Democratic district, former national security staffer Jeremy Wynes figures to be the favorite, with the most establishment backing in this race. This makes sense given the center right nature of the race. Doug Bennett has run a very conservative campaign and has received the endorsement of former Tea Party representative Joe Walsh. Insurance broker Sapan Shah is the third candidate and has been helped his campaign by self-financing $200,000. Shah is very centrist and has donated to Democrats in the past. Wynes has staked himself as the candidate in the middle of the two, slamming Shah as a Chicago Democratic Donor and Bennett as too conservative for the district. This primary will be important as it is the only Illinois seat the Republicans have even a slight chance to flip and Wynes has the upper hand right now.
Prediction: Jeremy Wynes wins with 45% of the vote.
District 11 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Bill Foster is unopposed in the Democratic primary
Candidates: Nick Stella, Connor Vlakancic
Overview: This contest seems pretty straight forward, with cardiologist Nick Stella the clear favorite in this primary. Stella has a very establishment general platform and knows the district. Connor Vlakancic is basically a perennial candidate, having run for congress multiple in different states. His main issue is in effect a fringe one as well, the idea that all candidates should be permitted to run in general elections without primaries.
Prediction: Nick Stella wins with 70% of the vote.
District 12 (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: David Bequette, Brendan Kelly
Overview: In another seat that is a flip opportunity for Democrats, it does seem like there is a clear favorite for this seat. Attorney Brendan Kelly has the support of Senator Tammy Duckworth, US Representative Cheri Bustos, and the DCCC’s Red to Blue program in his bid the flip the seat. He also has raised a decent amount, way more than his counterpart in marketing consultant David Bequette. It shouldn’t be a close contest, given the general appeal of a center left candidate in Kelly.
Prediction: Brendan Kelly wins with 65% of the vote.
Candidates: Mike Bost (incumbent), Preston Nelson
Overview: Incumbent Mike Bost shouldn’t have any problems with a minor primary challenge from Preston Nelson. Nelson is a wireless technician who identifies as a libertarian and supports an isolationist foreign policy. This could gain a bit of traction from a small faction of the party, but not enough to defeat Bost.
Prediction: Mike Bost wins with 80% of the vote.
District 13 (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Jonathan Ebel, David Gill, Erik Jones, Betsy Londrigan, Angel Sides
Overview: Five Democrats are running for this seat, which is considered one that is potentially in play in a wave election. Former Senate staffer Betsy Londrigan is the favorite, leading in fundraising and also having the endorsement of her former boss Dick Durbin, a big figure in Illinois politics. Londrigan is running a campaign largely focused on women’s rights and health care, earning the support of Kirsten Gillibrand and Emily’s List. Former Assistant Attorney General Erik Jones is also considered a very strong contender for this seat, running a campaign more focused on economic issues. He has the endorsement the current Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Chicago Tribune. Who wins between these two might be dependent on what issues voters find most important. College Professor Jonathan Ebel could also have a shot at this seat, as he is the only other candidate raising money in significant numbers and also could take support as a progressive candidate. Justice Democrat endorsed Physician David Gill seems to also have an outside shot, despite poor fundraising. Gill ran for this seat in 2012 and almost won, giving him solid name recognition. Teacher Angel Sides is also running for this seat, but both appear far behind their fellow competitors.
Prediction: Betsy Londrigan wins with 35% of the vote.
Incumbent Rodney Davis is unopposed in the Republican primary.
District 14 (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Matt Brolley, John Hosta, Daniel Roldan-Johnson, Victor Swanson, Lauren Underwood, Jim Walz, George Weber
Overview: Seven Democrats are running in this district, which is largely viewed as a difficult outside opportunity challenge for the Democrats. The sheer number of candidates is a very positive sign for Democrats, but only Matt Brolley and Lauren Underwood seem to have good chances. Brolley, the mayor of Montgomery, is considered the establishment pick for this district. Brolley has progressive credentials and establishment backing, making him a strong primary candidate and probably the slight favorite. Nurse Lauren Underwood also has a very good chance at winning this primary, boosted by an endorsement from Emily’s List. If the district has a significantly female electorate or one that puts health care at the top of its concerns, Underwood would very likely win. Teacher Victor Swanson also has an outside shot at winning this race, but it seems unlikely as of this moment. Jim Walz was the nominee for this seat in 2016, but has failed to find momentum in this election. The other candidates are business owner John Hosta, educator Daniel Roldan-Johnson, and chemical engineer George Weber.
Prediction: Matt Brolley wins with 30% of the vote
Incumbent Randy Hultgren is unopposed in the Republican Primary.
District 15 (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Kevin Gaither, Carl Spoerer
Overview: Just two Democrats are competing in this solid Republican district. Business owner and moderate Carl Spoerer is the favorite in this race, with key union backing and better fundraising than his opponent, Kevin Gaither. There isn’t much of a major idealogical difference between the two, althogh Gaither probably is a bit more left, but Spoerer will have more general name recognition, which is important in an area with not many Democrats
Prediction: Carl Spoerer wins with 65% of the vote.
Incumbent John Shimkus is unopposed in the Republican Primary
District 16 (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Amy Murri Briel, Sara Dady, Neill Mohammed, Beth Vercolio-Osmund
Overview: In a very open Democratic primary where all four candidates have opportunities to win, Immigration Attorney Sara Dady is one of the two favorites for this seat, running as the local establishment favorite. She has especially highlighted her community work, which will help local voters connect with her. The other favorite, Health care administrator Neill Mohammed is leading in fundraising, which is especially important in a district with few Democratic voters. Mohammed has also positioned himself well on health care, which will help with many Democratic voters. Amy Murri Briel has a shot, but would need a large number of progressives to turn out. Beth Vercolio-Osmund is also running and has a chance, especially if economically left voters turn out in numbers.
Candidates: Adam Kinzinger (incumbent), James Marter
Overview: Adam Kinzinger has been one of the most open critics of Donald Trump in the Republican Party, so it is no surprise he is facing a primary challenge from a Trump supporter. However, the challenge from Kendall County GOP Chair James Marter hasn’t gotten enough traction to have that much of a chance of winning. Marter got 30% running against centrist former Senator Mark Kirk in 2016 and it’s possible he could match that or improve on it. However, with the establishment still backing Kinzinger and Trump not stepping in to help Marter, Kinzinger will very likely still win the primary.
Prediction: Adam Kinzinger wins with 65% of the vote.
District 17 (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)
Incumbent Cheri Bustos is unopposed in the Democratic Primary,
Retired author and Libertarian Republican Bill Fawell is unopposed in the Republican Primary
District 18 (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)
Candidates: Brian Deters, Junius Rodriguez, Darrel Miller
Overview: In the final Democratic primary in Illinois, we have another rather open Democratic primary. Teacher Brian Deters is the slight favorite, leading in fundraising and also having a good balance between the ideals of working across party lines and sticking to left principles. This will help him get voters on all sides. Professor Junius Rodriguez ran for this seat in 2016, getting just 28% against incumbent Darin Lahood. He will be aided by the name recognition from that and an impressive ground game where he has visited over 100 towns in the district. As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls off an upset. The third candidate is moderate farmer and 2014 candidate Darrel Miller. Miller got 25% in the 2014 election, but the fact that he ran for office as a Republican in 2010 will really hurt him in the primary this year. However, he does have a chance, as he has a strong working class appeal.
Prediction: Junius Rodriguez wins with 40% of the vote.
Candidates: Darin LaHood (incumbent), Donald Rients
Overview: Incumbent Republican Darin LaHood shouldn’t have too much trouble with Perennial Candidate Donald Rients. Rients, a technical worker for State Farm, ran for this seat once in the 2015 special election which elected LaHood, receiving just 3% in a three person race, compared to LaHood’s 70%. With that in mind, LaHood should win easily given that he hasn’t had significant idealogical problems with any part of the Republican Party.
Prediction: Darin LaHood wins with 85% of the vote.